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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

Gary May President

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Peeling Back The Social Onion: Are You Just A Puppet?

2013 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for automotive retail (again). Results are in for March and the first quarter showing that, with exception to some brands, you're making money. However are you making enough money to make bad mistakes for your business? Look at your social media, chances are you're doing just that.

There's just no excuse for not participating in one of the essential areas for grown, increase in traffic, creation of leads and retention of clients. And by participate, what's meant is not completely being hands-off. Outsourcing your content (SEO, SEM, social, etc.) is critical for the majority of dealers but you must stay involved: review, analyze, modify, challenge and hold accountable. Never, ever let your vendors run wild on your content. Thousands of dealerships are, regardless if they pay for services.

Dealers will write checks to vendors from $300 to $4,000+ a month for social media content services for six months, not realizing that their pages look identical to hundreds of other dealers. Remember the following tips related to all of your content:

    1. The majority of Facebook pages are not crawled by Google, Bing, or other search engines. The fact that your Lexus dealership has the same posts and a hundred other ones won't bother Google, just the people you're trying to engage. And if you have most social vendors and a large "Like" count, you've likely bought fans or acquired them through giveaways. On average, less than 2% engage on dealership Facebook pages because they're not authentic, don't represent their neighborhood/area or extend their brand. It's useless if it doesn't look, sound and feel like you. "Caption This" didn't work, doesn't work and won't work.

    2. Add to the above a little annoying Facebook detail that dealers (and many businesses) continue to ignore: if you have a profile ("friend") page, you are not only in violation of Facebook Terms of Use (TOU) rules and can lose your page, you can't get all of the analytics, advertising and other functionality that come with a business page.

    3. Google doesn't like duplicate content. You've heard it at least 10-20 times but you don't know what it means. Simply put, if you have the 78th blog to post a redundant article on the Chevy Volt from the auto show you're not an authoritative site and Google won't drive traffic to your blog from searches. That is unless you can get a lot (A LOT) of people to your post, to talk about and share your post as well as re-post. Good luck.

    4. Twitter is an amazing tool, that most dealers' vendors simply automate posts from Facebook, YouTube and their blog. It's a shame. With Twitter you can actually listen. Yes, listen. Google doesn't show you real-time results for posts and discussions about your brand or franchise. Twitter does. And you can reply to them, unlike on Facebook. It's amazing what will happen in Twitter, over time, if you simply use it, ask questions and engage.

    5. Google Plus is being underutilized by you right now. Google what? Yeah, Google Plus, which should now be integrated (merged) with your Google Local page (reviews). And oh boy, are there a lot of "experts" giving out the completely wrong information on using Google/Google Plus/YouTube and their other tools (as well as all things social) and your vendors are just responding with "thank you" or "we'll get back with you" on your positive and negative reviews. One thing that happens with G+ consistently? Content indexing quicker than any other platform. Well, Google owns it...and you're not posting on it.

Typically a quick (10-15 minute) review of all your social network assets will reveal nearly no advantage by paying your vendors for 80%+ of dealerships. Better yet, look at your Google Analytics and see if you have actual links to your website(s) from your social media networks. Even if you're not paying for your content services, why even do it if you're not doing it right? And if your social vendor happens to also provide you with "SEO" services, look twice as hard.

Puppets are cute, for puppet shows. Not for business. Stop being a social media puppet or just another case study for your vendor to get an OEM endorsement. It's not a silo. It's not "we have a social presence" or "we do social". Everything that carries your name must be known and understood by you. Quit turning over your business to others because you don't want to invest or because "it doesn't sell cars".

This post likely won't change much but so much improper marketing for data purposes or to perpetuate automation is being done in the digital realm today. Maybe we can change it. Don't be another puppet...


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Gary May
Thanks Bryan! Very accurate, the simple reporting that dealers receive is many times no different than what website dashboards show: flawed data. Even accurate reporting shows no engagement from the content posted on social networks yet dealers see a graph a don't ask the right questions or do some of their own research.
Stan Sher
Excellent post. I believe that social media require a lot of attention and in reality there is not enough time to worry about it. I believe that dealers need to have an in-house solution to monitor it and be more original. There are so many cost effective ways to do it too. Automation makes it easier to be lazy and unoriginal. You bring up some great points.
Ron Henson
"Puppets are cute, for puppet shows."

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